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prisoners for sixteen thousand ducсats; some for twenty
· The President of the Contratacion,' or Chamber of Commerce, of Cadiz, gave what to the reader) is a most amusing account of one part of the preliminary ‘haggling of the market,' to these and the like bargains for ransom, in a letter to his fellow-officials of the Contratacion, dated 5th July (25th June, O.S.), which narrates his personal adventures when taken prisoner by the English. After much prefatory talk about his poverty, he made an offer, he says, of 300 ducats, -after he had been
asked 20,009, a little while before. Of this offer, the Englishmen made i great derision (han hecho muchar burla de mi). Presently, he offered 1,000 ducats, and there the matter rested for the night. In the moming, be thought it expedient to double the offer. But his captors replied that they would not be content with a real less than 10,000 ducats ; knowing that the President was “the principal man in Andalusia, and had under bis charge all the gold and silver that came from the Indies." When his letter was written, he was still in captivity. The news of the burning of the fleet had just then arrived. -- Carta dei Dr. Pedro Gutierrez Flores .... e lo Oficiales de la Contratacion. De Cádiz en 5 de Julio, 1596. (Colecior, &c. ut sup. rol. xxxvi. pp. 271–273.)
PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTER LXX. - DEATH OF LADY
CECIL-CECIL AND THE BROOKES. THE circumstance that the wife of Robert Cecil was the PREFA
sister of two of the unhappy Conspirators of 1603 adds TORX something to the interest of the letter at which we now arrive. LETTER That interest is great, intrinsically, for almost every line of the letter is characteristic. The writer, indeed, attained at length
1596-1597. to a riper wisdom than that of which we have here the sententious and somewhat laboured expression. His mind grew, eventually, up to the knowledge that sorrows are capable of rendering “other service than to multiply harms;" and that they are not, always, “ dangerous companions, converting bad into evil, and evil into worse.” He learnt (in course of time) that grief may become, in a certain and pregnant sense, "the treasure" of quite other men than fools,-of men who going through the vale of misery use it for a well; and the pools are filled with water.' But he attained to this knowledge only with extreme slowness,-at a late period of life, and after using desperate exertions in the hewing out of very leaky cisterns of comfort. Perhaps few men of like mental calibre have taken so long a time to learn the lessons of bereavement, or the uses of adversity. The task, however, was got by heart at last. In the letter before us we have Ralegh's crude notions about the theme, before he had really learnt a line of it.
This letter on Lady Cecil's death is also interesting as bearing strong through indirect testimony to the existence of some fine qualities in her husband. No one who knew Robert Cecil so intimately as Ralegh did, would have written thus, save under a conviction that the man to whom he was giving such consolation as he then had to give had loved truly and
would grieve deeply. One feels in reading the letter that it is written to a real mourner and upon a real loss. Other friends and correspondents of Cecil, who had enjoyed like closeness of
access, bear like evidence,—both to the worth of the dead and 1596-1597. !
to the unselfishness of the grief. The Lord Admiral (Howard of Effingham) writes thus to Cecil on this occasion : “She was to vertuos and good to live in so wretched a world. And you that hath an extraordinary jugment, by his gevte that dowth all, much nede that wysdome. Seke now to master your good and kynd nature and to thynk that sorro, nor any thyng els, can now redeme it. And as she is now, most asured, hapyer than all we that live in this pudeled and trubled world, so dow I asure yow, as long as God shall spare me lyfe in it ther shall not any tred on the erthe that shal love you beter then
We may take Lord Howard's testimony on the point in hand, without attaching overmuch meaning to his pious moralizings. For himself, and for his family, he was just as proud, as ambitious, and as covetous, as ever. His relish for the pomps and vanities of "this puddled and troubled world” was still as keen as it had always been. Some eight months earlier he had written to Sir Robert Cecil one of the most curiously impulsive, egotistical, and angry letters that even our Elizabethan repertories-much abounding in that sort of literature—can show. Under the excitement created by a passing royal rebuke, he made pretence to the Secretary that he was ready to pitch the High Admiralship of England to the feet of the first comer, merely because some official right "ever before enjoyed," as he said, “by admyralls of my name,” had been infringed, or was thought to have been infringed, upon. His indignation at the straitening of his prerogatives rose so high as to make him utter the wish, “I had drowned by the way, before I aryved at this place."? A
1 Lord Iloward of Effingham to Sir R. Cecil, Jan. 1596-1597; Ceil Papers, vol. xxxviii. (IIatfield).
2 Ibid. vol. v. § 6.
few weeks or months have passed ; and now, whilst imparting PREFAtender consolation to the Queen's Secretary on his bereave- Note to ment, the consoler has his eye intent on the weather-tokens LETTER at Court. He knows how much the recent months have increased Cecil's power and influence. He thinks the Secre. 1596-1597.
. tary's greatness to be still on the growing hand, and his gushing affection almost overpowers him. He winds up his letter of condolence thus: “I vow it to God,” he adds, “I thynk none dowth or cane so much love you, as I dow.” 1
Cecil himself seems always to have spoken of his lost wife in terms entirely consonant with those employed by Howard and by Ralegh. The allusions to Lady Cecil in those of his letters which are preserved at Hatfield, commonly occur in his extensive correspondence with her unfortunate brothers. The consolers of 1597, could they have raised a corner of the veil of the years then swiftly speeding onward, would have seen, in Lady Cecil's case, with more than usual clearness, the special force of the expression—'taken from the evil to come.'
One of those allusions is of great, though merely incidental, interest in the biography of Ralegh. George Brooke had written to his brother-in-law, in the January of 1603-only eight months before his execution—a somewhat strange letter, Cecil's reply to which is preserved. That letter shows that Cecil had employed Brooke in some agencies—of which nothing more is apparent, on the face, than that they were in some sort political—and that Brooke mistrusted the extent of Cecil's real confidence in him. It also shows that he was jealous of the greater favour borne, as he thought, by Cecil to their brother, Lord Cobham, with whom at that moment, it would seem, he himself was not on very good terms.? And
1 Cecil Papers (Jan. 1596-1597), vol. xxxvii. (Hatfield).
2 This dissension, however, had not usually existed between the brothers. Only a short time before, honest William Lambarde, who was one of the executors of William Lord Cobham-father of the Brookes, — when writing to Lord Burghley about the provisions of Lord Cobham's Will, tells him.
PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTER LXX.
he protests, in somewhat angry words, that his own “metal was as pure as any, howsoever it be valued.” Cecil replies thus :-“ Your care to send me your servant is very welcome, for care is the companion of love. And the dearest bond that ever I was tyed in made me think that I might challenge it; except I could have accused myself to have justly lost it. For the sending to my Lord (Cobham), and not to you, it proceeded of no private indisposition towards you, but from the inwardness of my conversation with my Lord which both our fortunes hath established in this place where we both ordinarily live; as also, this being so far from my esteeming worth inquisition. I made bold with his Lordship to do me the courtesy-rather accidentally than immediately—to advertise me of some circumstances which made my friends carefuller than I was to beat out that, of which for myself, I thank God, I have made my audit; as of all other hopes or fears, but of God's providence. For an answer to your profession to be made of 'as pure a metal as any, howsoever you are valued :' for the first part, Sir, if you remember, from what stock you are a branch,you may conclude that I need no remembrance, being, next yourself, as well able to guess at the mixture as any, when I conceive that if any composition could be purer than other, I had most tryal of it, to my infinite comfort; till God found me fit to be corrected with the privation. For the second part, which concerns your value, I can say no more than this, that the purest gold may be touched with pitch, and so less valuable to those that otherwise would have prized it. That pitch, I mean,-credulity of the practices of malice and envy ; whereof, when you shall make separation, I confess there remains nothing of the solid but that which may attract the best offices of him that never wronged you, but ever resolved to be your assured friend and brother-in-law, R. C."?
that the brothers live on terms exemplarily good. Lambarde's letter is ee
II.e. the transaction respecting which he had sent to Cobham.